From Collecting to Connecting: A New Paradigm for Education

This is a guest post by Professor Toni Krasnic, author of How to Study with Mind Maps. Toni is an author, mind mapper, teacher, and student success coach. In this article, he discusses Seth Godin’s essay collection “Stop Stealing Dreams” and how mind maps can help students go from simply collecting dots to connecting dots.

From Collecting to Connecting: A New Paradigm for Education

Stop Stealing Dreams (What Is School For?)

In March 2012, Seth Godin published Stop Stealing Dreams, a provocative collection of 132 essays on improving the current education system. It struck a chord with millions of people who read the manifesto, including me. One concept that struck me in particular was the importance of “connecting.” Seth used it 57 times in the manifesto and had it in 3 headings. Section 64, reprinted below, hit home in particular and is the inspiration for this post.

64. Connecting the dots vs. collecting the dots

The industrial model of school is organized around exposing students to ever increasing amounts of stuff and then testing them on it.
Collecting dots.
Almost none of it is spent in teaching them the skills necessary to connect dots.
The magic of connecting dots is that once you learn the techniques, the dots can change but you’ll still be good at connecting them.

It’s also helpful to refer back to Section 22, where Seth talks about the connection revolution and emphasizes that we live in an “era that marks the end of the industrial age and the beginning of something new is ultimately about connection.”
In short, Seth is arguing that our system of schooling will be forever changed by the newly emerged connection economy.

Self-Responsibility and Education

“Learning is not done to you. Learning is something you choose to do.” –Seth Godin

We’ve been at school redesign and reform for many years now, and spent millions of dollars on experimenting with different solutions. Surely, many more years and dollars will be spent.

However, from a learner’s perspective, the ultimate responsibility for learning still falls within students. Teachers alone cannot “produce” learning and success in students. Students need to accept that, ultimately, they are responsible for their own learning and success, and that they must take steps to learn how to learn and develop the skills they need to thrive in today’s complex world. The most important piece is that the learners become self-learners, capable of connecting the bits and connecting with people to make learning personally meaningful.

Connecting Dots with Mind Maps

“The magic of connecting dots is that once you learn the techniques, the dots can change but you’ll still be good at connecting them.” – Seth Godin

Mind mapping is a visual tool that helps us visualize connections between concepts (dots). A mind map is created by extending concepts and associations from a central theme in all directions. It’s like a tree, with branches extending all around.

Connecting dots with a mind map

Existing associations trigger new associations and help integrate new concepts within a map, similar to what we do with concepts in our minds. Once we trigger our brain to look for associations, there’s no going back. Our brain will be forever conditioned to connect different ideas into a whole and extend the whole into yet unknown domains. Mind mapping is a tool to make this thinking visible.
This ability to converge and diverge our thinking, via connections between dots, to create meaning and create new ideas, respectively, is what makes mind maps such a powerful thinking tool.

Connecting People with Mind Maps

“Our chaotic world is open to the work of passionate individuals, intent on carving their own paths.” – Seth Godin

Mind maps connect dots and people

To connect dots, we must first discover the dots.

We come across new concepts via formal connections (e.g., school) and numerous informal connections (real-world contacts and the Internet). The network of these connections, both formal and informal, is collectively called a Personal Learning Network (PLN). PLNs are created by individual learners to meet learners’ specific needs and extend learning connections to other learners around the globe who share similar interests.

Mind maps are a useful tool in mapping connections of people. As with concepts, you can easily create mind maps for various PLNs that are important to you.

Join the Conversation: Wiki Mind Map of ‘Stop Stealing Dreams’

If you haven’t read Stop Stealing Dreams yet, I highly recommend you read it. It’s a great discussion starter on education. And it’s free.

If you’ve read the book, you can join many online discussion groups, including the Wiki Mind Map group on MindMeister.

The map skeleton of essay headings is already there, with direct links to the sections of the book. I’ve also added all the references to “connecting,” and a few other ideas that impacted me.
There’s much left to add and connect, however. I hope you’ll consider contributing your reflections directly to the maps or comment below.